Friday, February 23, 2024

Temptation All Around

It's Friday! How about a few notes and queries? Okay, then. Here we go...

Gonna Make You An Offer...

Steam has a sale on. Steam always has a sale on, but this one is more interesting than most. It's a 2K Pubisher Sale and although I didn't immediately recognize the name, I certainly recognized the games: Civilization, Borderlands, Bio-Shock, X-Com...

So far, so impressive, but wait! Check out the discounts: 90%! 91%!! 93%!!! Apart from a couple of measly half-price offers on games that cost less than $5 full price, everything is two-thirds off or better. 

Cuts this big raise a couple of awkward questions:  

  1. Just how big does a bargain  have to be before you feel you have to take it, even though you don't really want it?
  2. If you call yourself a gamer but you've never played these classics, at these prices is there any excuse not to try them now?

I can answer the second quite easily. I don't call myself a gamer. I grudgingly accept "Gamer" as a useful if misleading shorthand term but I wouldn't self-identify as one. I certainly don't feel the need to have personally played every classic game, although I do believe I ought to recognize the names and know a little a bit about most of them. 

The first is a bit harder. I do like a bargain and these are some really good deals. A few of the games I can eliminate quite easily on the grounds of genre or subject. I'm never going to start playing 4X games or at least I can't see it happening. Others, though, are harder to turn down. Bio-Shock is right in my area of interest and I'm increasingly beginning to realise how much I like the tactical, turn-based gameplay that's often descibed as "X-Com style". It does seem strange to enjoy the copies but ignore the originals.

In the end, though, is a bargain really a bargain if, after you buy it, it just sits there, unused? These are all games I've thought about playing before and decided against. If they were sitting in my Steam library, would I be any more likely to play them? The scores of DVDs in this house, still with the shrink-wraps unbroken, suggest otherwise.

And then there's the sheer scale of the offers. The two X-Com Collections comprise 26 games! Who has time for that? Even the Bio-Shock Collection, with just three full games and some DLC, would probably take weeks to play through. 

The games are mosly available in the sale individually, some of them for absolute peanuts. I am very tempted to drop a few pounds just to have a few in my collection. But in the end, truism though it may be, money is money. A tenner for half a dozen games that could give me entertainment for months is an objective bargain but I already have a ton of games I haven't played that I got for nothing, which has to the best bargain of all. And am I playing those?

I'm still dithering. I might crack and buy a couple of titles. The sale is on for a couple of days. I'm working all weekend, luckily, which should give me something of a sanity buffer until the temptation disappears. 

Weirdly, the game in the sale that started me thinking about all this wasn't any of the big names I've mentioned. It's right down at the bottom of the list, among the flurry of after-thoughts and also-rans: Freedom Force, the first super-hero game I ever played. 

Freedom Force came out more than two decades ago, in 2002. It had a lengthy demo, which was included on a disc on the cover of some magazine I bought back then. I remember playing that demo and not thinking it was all that great. And yet I can still remember it with startling clarity.

I certainly didn't buy the full game when it was released although I have a vague idea I might have picked it up free from some service or offer at some point. It's entirely possible I already own it, somehow. And yet I can't quite shift the feeling it would be nice to have it on Steam, where I could not play it so much more easily than I'm not playing it wherever else I have it.

It's 75% off. They're asking £1.07 for it. It would be rude not to take them up on an offer like that. Wouldn't it? 

Always On The Internet (Slight Reprise)

And now a couple of updates on Nightingale. Just be thankful you're not getting a full post.

There were two announcements from Inflexion Games waiting when I logged into Steam this morning. One confirmed the arrival of Nightingale on GeForce Now. The other apologised for the game being always online and promised an offline version "as soon as feasible".

It made me think. I've been playing my games through an internet connection for so long now I'd all but forgotten it was even possible to play video games without one. When I log in to Prime Gaming or Steam and launch a game, I literally never even think about whether I'm playing on or offline. 

I haven't had any of the reported connectivity issues with Nightingale that others have. Well, that's not strictly true. I've had two disconnections, both of which were immediately resolvable by logging back in. That's so insignificant I wouldn't even class it as an inconvenience, let alone a problem.

It is true, however, that I'm playing entirely solo and that I have no plans to play Nightingale in multiplayer or co-op in the future.  I guess I don't need to be online for that, although I had been assuming the servers were doing some of the heavy lifting, not my PC. My question is, if a game like this moves offline, isn't the client PC on which it runs going to need to be more powerful? Or is that not how these things work?

Of course, if my PC wasn't up to running Nightingale, I could still play anyway, using GeForce Now. I was all over that for a while with New World, before I upgraded my RAM and video card last year. My then-set-up was able to run New World but after an hour or so it would grind to a halt and have to be re-booted. It also made some worrying noises and kept the room warm without my needing to use the wall heater.

That was why, as soon as I had the components installed, the first game I fired up to test them with was New World. It ran smoothly, didn't bog down, and my PC purred along, quiet and cool as you like. The ironic thing was that once I could play New World locally, I didn't much want to. 

Playing on GeForce Now was efficient and effective but it was also just annoying enough to make me not want to bother after a while. There were a few extra steps every time you wanted to log in and because I was too mean to pay the subscription I was stuck with the free service, which made me queue for a server in the evenings and booted me out once an hour.

I could re-queue and start again an unlimited number of times but it just made me less interested in playing, overall. I would absolutely use the service to play a game I wanted to play that wouldn't run at all on my machine but in the case of Nightingale, I can't see the point.

...That You Can't Refuse

On the topic of how much of a bargain does something have to be before you buy, how much of a bribe does it take to get you to come back? 

We're all used to MMORPGs running campaigns to get people to log in again to games they used to play. I used to jump on those. Now I mostly ignore them.

I did acquire most of my ingrained gaming habits back in the days of EverQuest and its imitators, though. I do have certain triggers and one of them is xp. If I hear a game's giving big, bonus xp - double or treble, say - it does often  make me feel like taking them up on the offer. Even if its a game I haven't thought about playing in years. 

Enter Black Desert with its 800% XP Bonus. Eight. Hundred. Per Cent. I mean I can't even. 

There are some strings. It's a community event. The titular 800% is predicated on players working to gether to gather a total of 30,000,000 Seals of Sincerity. That sounds like a lot but who knows? 

The whole thing is Ostensibly on behalf of the game's eight anniversary although it t may also have something to do with Pearl Abyss's finances, which as Nosy Gamer reported, don't look that bright right now. I'm sure they'd love for a bunch of lapsed BD players to come back to the fold.

There are some titles and other goodies you can claim, too. I do like a title...

I definitely didn't have "Play Black Desert" on my spring schedule but damn! 800%! I wonder if I still have the game installed?

And finally.

Always End With A Song

Mrs Bhagpuss tipped me to this one. "She's got a candy-floss voice and it's about losing love or something. You'd like it". And she was right. She knows me so well...

Also, it has 50m views on YouTube and it was #1 in the UK last year so why the heck I needed Mrs Bhagpuss to tell me about it beats me. What do I have these damn music feeds for?

Strangers - Kenya Grace

I just love the way she stretches the vowels. And the skittering drum & bass production. And the shimmering whispers. It's weird how everything that used to be avant garde ends up going mainstream.

Weird and very wonderful.


  1. Freedom Force looks like someone decided to cash in on post-9/11 patriotism, although the cringe is incredibly strong now. (I probably would have thought it cringey back then toon, but I didn't know it existed.) Now, I look at it and think of the game as something driven by a certain political candidate.

    1. That literally never occured to me, even back then. I thought it was just a knock-off of the Golden Age patriotic teams from WW2, of which there were many. They had something of a revival about that time, particularly with Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers series. I guess all of that might have been down to the 9/11 effect.

  2. My one gripe with Nightingale is that it takes so long to load and I wonder if that would be better in an offline mode. Though on the other hand, what about Saves? The nice thing about online games is I generally don't have to remember to save my game.

    I'm never too bothered about games being always online since *I* am always online and when we lose internet it is only SLIGHTLY less concerning to me than when we lose power. I get the argument of "But what happens when they eventually take the servers down" which is legit but I'm always LONG gone by then thanks to my short attention span. Plus if a game is good someone will bring 'unofficial' servers online.

    GeForce Now tempts me because, IF I was willing to pay $100 US every 6 months, I could get better graphics than my current card can manage, and my PC would run cool and quiet, and I wouldn't have to worry about being out of hard drive space, and if it's a controller-friendly game I could go play it on the TV via the Nvidia Shield that I bought once upon a time.

    But $200 US/year feels like a lot so until my machine ages out of being able to play games, I don't think I'd bite. Though I suppose if you want cutting edge graphics and upgrade your GPU once every 2 years you're probably spending $200 US/year on hardware.

    1. Those load times are impressive - impressively long!

      The free version of GeForce Now is fairly generous. If you play off-peak you can pretty much play continuously, so long as you don't mind splitting your play into a series of hour-long sessions. There were long queues at busier times of day though. I wonder if that's gotten better or worse as the service matures? Could go either way.

    2. Yeah unfortunately I'm only ever gaming during peak times and the few times I've tried to take GeForce Now for a test drive there's been a pretty long wait. But that WAS around the holidays. I should give it another go.


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